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Oli-led Government-31

Issue April 2016

Prime Minister’s Address To Nation

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


On the eve (April 12, 2016) of the Vikram New Year 2073, Prime Minister KP Oli addressed the nation. This address was the second Prime Minister KP Oli had made during his six-month in office.


In the first six paragraphs, he dwelt on the Madhesh Movement and he tried to woo the Madheshi leaders for dialogue to resolve any issue needed to address, and amend the constitution accordingly. He said that everything could be resolved amicably through dialogue in democracy; so, any movement was unnecessary.


In the seventh paragraph, Prime Minister Oli said that his government would replace all the zip cars (twines) with suspension bridges within two years; currently the country had 171 zip cars; of them, three had been converted to suspension bridges, nine are in the process of converting into suspension bridges, 42 are in the process of bidding for project design, and 47 are in the process of purchasing for the detailed project design, and 34 are in the process of preparing the detailed project design. In Aswin (September-October) all project designs would be completed, and then suspension bridges would be built and the zip cars would be replaced with suspension bridges in time.


Comments: Currently, Nepalese students, regular travelers and women collecting fodders from forest had to cross rivers on zip cars in the remote areas risking their lives almost daily. Many people have lost their lives falling from the zip cars. So, replacing zip cars with suspension bridges had been an urgent need. If the prime minister would keep his words and leaders of other political parties let him work, hopefully, zip cars would be done away with within two years as stated by the prime minister.


In the eight paragraph, he said that 400 KVA Dhalkevar (Nepal)- Muzaffarpur (India) international power transmission line would be completed in Magh (Jan-Feb 2017); we have already added 80 MW power (imported from India) to the main grid in the second week of Fagun (Feb-March 2016); we would add 600 MW power in the coming six months, and the power outage would end in a year.


Comments: Many private hydropower projects had been in the pipeline. Probably, the prime minister might be correctly saying that 600 MW would be added soon but many factors including the political would affect the governance and certainly to the completion of the power projects. Missing deadline of project completion had been the business as usual.


He said in the ninth paragraph that the main job of the current government led by me was the enforcement of the democratic constitution crafted by the constituent assembly elected by the people. The parliament had already amended 193 laws that contradicted the constitution. One hundred and ten federal laws, 22 provincial laws, and six local government laws have been in the process of crafting within this year. Nine-member commission for reorganization of local governments has already started off its work. Thirteen-member high-level directive committee under me on the enforcement of the constitution and administrative restructuring, and nine-member federal law enforcement and administrative restructuring coordination committee under the chief secretary have been set up.


He said in the 10th paragraph that delineation of boundaries of provinces, and of new constituencies for elections, and naming the provincial capitals would be done soon following the dialogue and debate; the government has been preparing for holding the elections for the provincial houses, federal house of representatives, and the national assembly after the interim elections for the local governments, and the interim arrangement for the provincial chiefs.


In the 11th paragraph, he said when I took office the reconstruction work was not moving anywhere; however, I would like to say that we have started off the reconstruction initiative under the leadership of the National Planning Commission, crafting a new reconstruction law, setting up a National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), and formulating the rules and regulations for it. We have distributed warm clothes to the quake victims in the winter; we have sent 1,600 engineers to make the digital information on the quake-damaged private houses.


Reconstruction Community Committees would be set up in villages to move the reconstruction work ahead in the coming Jestha (May-June) month. In view of the coming monsoon rains, the quake victims would be sheltered in the collective houses.


Reconstruction of the quake-damaged archeologically important heritage, educational buildings, health posts, and other State buildings would be immediately started off.


The NRA and its enforcement agency would have full manpower filling up the vacancies in those offices.


Every district would have at least two resource centers. Each village development committee would have an engineer, one social mobilizer, and a trained construction worker.


Construction of office building for the president, residential and office buildings for the vice-president, office building for the prime minister, central army office building, Supreme Court office building, parliamentary building, election commission building and other important buildings would be started off immediately.


In the 12th paragraph, he said, I had instructed to give priority to the families of the poor, senior citizens, and a single woman with children for reconstruction; that is why the reconstruction period would be of five years. To this end, NRA would prepare a comprehensive reconstruction plan and implement it.


Currently, I have heard some people talked about the human rights and social justice situation in Nepal at the international forum. We have reached the current status crossing the numerous stages of the struggle for human rights. I have talked to the officials of the National Human Rights Commission to study the human rights situation following the constitution sometimes ago. I have spent 50-55 years on fighting for the human rights. So, as a head of government I would like to say it would be better for anybody not to point out to the human rights situation in Nepal, the prime minister said in the 13th and 14th paragraphs.


After taking office in my first address to the nation, I had said that we would have the cordial relations with all the friendly countries including the neighboring countries: China and India following the UN Charter and panchaseel. I believe that either ‘neighbors first’ or three-country corridor cooperation is the good neighborly relations. As a head of the government, I would like to make it clear that Nepal has no enemy at all; we want others also honor our friendly well wishes and sensitive geopolitical situation, he said in 16th paragraph.


After the recent Transit Treaty with China, our country had transformed from the ‘landlocked’ to ’land-link’ country. We have now a better opportunity of developing infrastructures following the agreements with the friendly neighboring countries, according to the 18th paragraph.


I had talked about the infrastructure development in my first address to the nation but now I want to repeat it once again. The government would give the priority to the development of three main infrastructure networks such as roads, railway and air transport, he stated in the 20th paragraph.


The challenges have been to change the subsistence agricultural system to the professional and modern one. The green revolution in Terai would be expedited constructing the Sunkoshi-Kamla-Bagmati, Kaligandki-Tinau, Rapti-Surai, Bheri-Babai diversion projects, according to the 21st paragraph.


Comments: Changing the subsistence farmers into the commercial farmers had been the talk of the nation for four decades but even today many farmers opt to be subsistence, as they did not have any opportunity of having sufficient land for commercial farming following the law. The lack of large market, and the police harassing the farmers at different checkpoints while taking their products to the markets had been other hurdles to commercializing the agriculture. So, Mr. Oli needed to sort out such a few critical things that had obstructed the commercial farming rather than talking about the large irrigation projects, and seeds, fertilizers and technology that never reach the poor farmers in time. Billions of rupees were misused in the name of providing subsidy on fertilizers.


Our aim has been the self-reliant development not the development on the remittances brought in by the youths working in the foreign countries. Only the economically better off people could use the rights properly and contribute to the nation building. To this end, the need is the balanced economic development following the public-private and cooperative initiative as prescribed by our constitution; the people need to have the opportunity of the investment and its results; we won’t stop the rich becoming richer but we would narrow down the gap between the rich and the poor, according to the 23rd paragraph.


Comments: The statement of the prime minister narrowing down the gap between the rich and the poor was very nice to hear but the reality had been the poor had been paying all sorts of taxes on their consumption, and becoming poorer as the custom duties on the goods have been increasing whereas the tax the rich people were supposed to pay had been evaded in conjunction with the politicians and the State employees. Recent news in the Nepalese media stated that hundreds of bullions of rupees worth of revenue was lost after the government waived the taxes the industries and business houses had to pay stating the quakes and blockade. Such secret dealings for the benefit of the concerned minister and open dealings for the benefit of the rich have been the evils in the administration. In addition, the development projects again supposed to benefit the poor had suffered much more than any other projects from corruption.


Lifelong pension could be made possible from the social security fund to which people contribute during the active working life. Some people might ask whether it would be possible in Nepal but if the countries having almost the same income as Nepal, had been paying then why not Nepal, the prime minister said in the 24th paragraph.


In the 25th paragraph, Prime Minister Oli has said that I am hopeful that we would be self-reliant on some basic things. My priority is on making self-reliant on the basic food grain means the food grains we daily use, basic health service means equipment, medicines and services, and on energy. We would replace petroleum fuels with power for the domestic consumption in a short time.


Comments: Probably, the Nepal Electricity Authority needs to improve the age-old transmission lines, and replace the low quality transformers but paid for the high quality with the quality required to hold the power load while all the families cook on power simultaneously causing a huge load on transformers and transmission lines. Surely, Oli is not an electrical engineer but he needs to understand it from his engineer advisors.


In the 26th paragraph, Prime Minister Oli has said, my dream is not retrofitting villages, settlements and towns but smart cities with all sorts of modern facilities. I have instructed our planners to draw the maps of more than a dozen smart cities and of Kathmandu that would be good enough to call the capital of modern Nepal. I would talk about my dream in detailed while presenting policies and programs of the government. To make the dream come true, the budget is certainly the medium.


Comments: Surely, the dream of Mr. Oli is very good but most of the time the dream remains a dream. For example, the dream of the then Interim Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai to bring the water from the Melamchi River to Kathmandu for washing the Kathmandu streets has not come true even after 25 years. So, we could not even guess how many years the dream of Prime Minister Oli would take to come true.


One thing Prime Minister Oli could do to make his dream come true was to eliminate the ministers including the prime minister taking commission on contracting the jobs, on purchasing equipment, machinery and construction materials, fertilizers, medicines to name a few in a large scale for any development project if he were seriously thinking to make his dream come true.


Prime Minister Oli knew that the then minister including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had been involved in purchasing low quality tents, tarpaulins, tin sheets, blankets and so on at the prices of regular quality for the relief of the quake victims. I said Sushil Koirala was involved in making money taking low quality materials at the prices of regular quality because he did not take actions against the then Minister for Urban Development Dr Narayan Khadka and the secretary to the Urban Development Ministry. The irony is that with all these public knowledge of the daylight corruption at the Urban Development Ministry, the news on Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) taking actions against them has not been in the media, yet.


Nepal adopted a new constitution after 75 years of four martyrs giving their lives happily for democracy. Movement for human rights has been basically over and done with. However, one thing that burns my heart as yours has been that even after such an immense political change the suffering of the common folks has been as it is, Prime Minister Oli said in the 27th paragraph.


So, I urge all political parties and friends to focus an attention on the benefits of the nation and on the progress of the people. Competition, periodic elections, and the government matters are the features of democracy; let them be so. (Comment: Probably, Oli hinted at making money and fighting elections are business as usual). However, the progress of the nation and the people’s economic growth are the common matters. So, it is time to develop a new political culture, Prime Minister Oli said in the 27th paragraph.


The constitution has been possible only when we all came together to build a consensus on it. Building a comprehensive consensus on enforcing it also is equally necessary. So, on behalf of the current government I called on all to contribute positively to build a consensus on implementing the constitution, Prime Minister Oli said in the 27th paragraph.


Comments: Prime Minister Oli knew that calling on all political leaders to build a consensus on enforcing a constitution is one thing, to build an environment conducive to enforce constitution is another.


So far, political leaders had focused on how to seize the power and amass the resources for the next elections. Their attention had been primarily on staying on in power at any cost and by any means rather than by the fair political means in other words through the honest and fair elections.


Party elections and general parliamentary elections have been more expensive than every previous one. Where from they could get the money, up until now the only main source of money had been the ministerial positions. It had been open secrete that every minister no matter which party s/he belonged to needed to make money otherwise s/he would be considered as an idiot. A politician without making money while in office being an idiot had been true as without money s/he would have not a second chance to be in the ministerial position.


The popular belief had been that Girija Prasad Koirala while he was a prime minister priced the ministerial job at NPR 20 millions. Any politician that had sacrificed the whole life, family and even the ancestral property surely would not have that amount of money to pay for the ministerial job. Would it not be idiotic to sacrifice everything if s/he were not to have anything at the end?


That might be one of the reasons why the sincere politicians could not come to power and run the administration sincerely in other words without corruption. Setting a price for the ministerial job has been directly encouraging the corrupt practices in the administration. I believe Mr. Oli knew it absolutely. So, he needed to take actions to eliminate such evils plaguing the administration rather than having sugar coated words for the common folks.


April 18, 2016

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